Staying Healthy in the Fall Season - A Lesson on Acupuncture with Ari Odamaki, Certified Acupuncturist


I’m often asked this question regarding the length of study required in the acupuncture profession. Currently in the United States, a Master’s Degree is the entry-level standard for professional practice. The length of training for the Acupuncture program is 3 years. The Oriental Medicine program, which includes acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, is 4 or 5 years. Where I received my graduate training at the Tri-State College of Acupuncture, a minimum of 2,168 hours of training were required for the program in acupuncture; and 2,978 hours for the program in Oriental Medicine. Most students completed more hours by taking extra courses throughout their study. My curriculum in Oriental Medicine consisted of Chinese medicine theory, diagnosis and treatment techniques in acupuncture, didactic Chinese herbal studies, acupuncture and herbal clinical training, biomedical clinical sciences, counseling, communication, ethics and practice management. In both programs, a year long internship is completed in the final year in the school’s community clinic providing treatments as supervised student practitioners. While each state’s regulatory board has their own requirements for licensure, most states require most, if not all of the NCCAOM certification examinations and/or national board certification. To become board certified as a Diplomate of Acupuncture, one must show professional competency by passing all 3 certification examinations in Foundations of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture, and Biomedicine.

The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture to be effective for over 43 common disorders. Conditions I often treat in my office include: allergies, asthma, anxiety, depression, arthritis, joint pain, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, colds, flu, cough, bronchitis, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, gynecological disorders, headaches, migraines, high blood pressure, immune system deficiency, infertility, insomnia, knee pain, musculoskeletal injuries, sciatica, shoulder pain, skin disorders, stress, tension, and tendinitis. Acupuncture has been shown to improve generalized oxygenation and blood flow. It balances the autonomic nervous system and restores homeostasis. It can reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure and promote relaxation by stimulating the release of oxytocin, a hormone that regulates the parasympathetic nervous system. Acupuncture also increases the production of anti-inflammatory secretions. It can help relieve pain by releasing natural painkillers such as endorphins and adenosine.

Fall is the time of year when the yang energy begins to submerge and the yin energy increases as the sunny and warmer days decrease to cooler temperatures. There is a shift from the expansiveness of summer to a more contractive time of slowing down and introspection as we draw inwards both physically and emotionally. We move forward from the abundance of summer and begin to prepare for hibernation by conserving our energy and sleeping more. When we are in tune with how the seasons affect our bodies, we can adjust our lifestyles to be in natural rhythm with the change of seasons. By doing so we can strengthen our immune system and protect our health during the fall to fortify and sustain us through the winter months.

In Chinese medicine, the fall season is associated with the Metal element. Much like the ore deep within a mountain, the Metal element represents the most refined part of ourselves and our core issues. The emotion connected with Metal is grief or sadness and the meridians associated with the element are the yin and yang pair of the Lung and Large Intestine channels, which reflect the season’s nature of letting go. While the lungs carry oxygen to the body and exhale carbon dioxide, the large intestine absorbs nutrients and eliminates digestive waste. Both the lungs and large Intestines are organs of absorption and elimination. In emotional terms, the yin and yang pair of Lung and Large Intestine channels which are associated with grief are involved in releasing what no longer serves us and making room for new experiences.

In addition to treating more respiratory issues in the fall such as seasonal allergies, sinus infections, asthma, coughing, and colds, it is common to see more emotions associated with the grieving process and difficulty in letting go. In Chinese medicine, the back of the neck is thought to be particularly vulnerable to invasion of wind and cold, so dress warmly and wear a scarf to cover your neck. Eat warm foods and avoid raw salad and cold beverages. Eat foods which are available seasonally. Fall vegetables and fruits include squashes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, beets, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, pears and apples. Since the taste associated with the metal element is pungent or spicy, add in some horseradish, onions, garlic, ginger, or mustard in your cooking.

For more information on acupuncture and scheduling an individual session with Ari, check out her bio and session information.

New to acupuncture and want to try it out without paying for a private session? Register for Ari’s upcoming workshop “Staying Healthy in Autumn with Acupuncture”.